Reductio ad Absurdum by Stick Insect
Posted by shirleycurran on 30 January 2015
Dilemma: what shall I use as my illustration. I usually start with the submission grid but that was a rather horrid unsymmetrical grid with a double unch in the very first row, so I’d be ashamed to use that. (Actually that was a very fine hint that something unusual was going to happen as the endgame – as it did, to our great glee). I wonder if the editors have decided that Mr Green had at last earned a holiday. I don’t think he is going to have to pore over lots of mis-spelled grids this week.
I did the usual Numpty scan to confirm that Stick Insect has renewed his membership of the Listener Oenophile club and, of course, he is a stalwart member, even if there are ‘Pains in North Carolina: end of alcohol in houses (6)’ (alcoho)L in DOORS giving DOLORS). We find ‘Ales brewed to be suitable for light use (4)’ (Ales* = LASE) and ‘Remain liberal about Scots drunk in soil (6)’ (FOU in BE L(iberal) = BEFOUL) so all is well.
The rest of our solve goes just as quickly as those boozy clues and within an hour, we have a complete grid. This, of course, is because of some lucky guessing with those extra letters. PERIMETER MESSAGE appeared first, and was soon complemented by AND ALTERNATE ROWS AND COLUMNS. Finally, the word DELETE appeared and we chortled with glee.
Making a fine little tartan grid of all those columns and rows I have to delete leaves me with the message DELETE ALL: SEND UNFILLED GRID.
I laugh with amused reminiscence as the very first crossword the Rasputin team compiled as a group (compiled long before our first joint Listener crossword) was an entertaining thing about cricket, where solvers were invited to ‘burn the grid and send the ashes!’ The late-lamented Radix advised us that the requirement could be rather a suspicious and smelly affair and he suggested that our hidden message should read ‘Only joking: submit as normal!’ That was what finally appeared in the Sunday Telegraph Enigmatic Variations series.
Indeed, I was alerted to the fact that there might be a second, contradictory instruction here too, but it seemed not, so an empty grid it is (what a waste of a postage stamp!) but thanks all the same, Stick Insect, for a bit of fun which will, I hope, encourage a few more people to enjoy the weekly Listener as we do.
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